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December 26, 2013

Viviana on Joining & Running Virtual Book Tours: Not All Tour Co's are Created Equal (#mustread for self-pimping authors)

Early this month I Gushed & Griped about the pros and cons of joining book tours. Of course it's from a subjective standpoint and I can only share thoughts and experiences I've personally had and can't speak for anybody else. 

I thought it would be a great idea to invite a virtual book tour organizer to volley some thoughts with us and get their side of the story. 

Viviana is the owner of Enchantress of Books Blog Tours and she's one of the better organizers. Not only that but she's a blogger too so her view on the matter straddles both worlds. On top of that she's also offering some pretty good tips to authors who are thinking of doing paid tours. So bear with us, this post is pretty juicy.





Hi! My name is Viviana Izzo and I am the owner of Enchantress of Books Blog Tours. I’m still a blogger and I do partake in other companies’ blog tours. However, I found myself in a similar boat as Braine and many other bloggers. I was (and frankly, still am) frustrated that I had to hunt down the tour organizer to get the material in a timely manner. Or receive multiple emails because the information was ‘trickling in’ instead of sending everything in one email. Oh and the media kits! Jeez, many were horrible, missing information or the organizer didn’t send the images separately from the word document. So I had to spend even more time, copying the image to my Publisher program to then save it as an image so I could upload it to my blog! 

Needless to say, when I started my blog tour company, the first thing I decided to do was to ensure I didn’t do the things that frustrated the bejeezes out of me as a reviewer to my tour hosts. For me, this is my business and I do take it very seriously. It’s not a hobby or something I do half-assed. There has been a growth spurt in blog tour companies lately. This is both good and bad. First, good as this proves that there is a business need for this particular type of service. Now, for the bad – not all tour companies are created equal and not everyone is good at this kind of stuff. Some companies have been around for a while, but that doesn’t mean they are professional nor know what they are doing. It’s not just about inviting bloggers to host the author. This is a marketing and promotional service that blog tour companies are providing. You have to be organized (as a business, you’re not just doing one tour at a time, you have several all at once or overlapping) and ensure things are running smoothly and keep your cool throughout the entire time! The focus should be on how to promote the author in the best and most effective way possible. The point is to make the author and their book stand out not your business

I thought I’d outline just a few key things to both authors who are thinking about hiring a tour company and bloggers who host. 

AUTHORS! Things to consider when hiring a tour company:


Don’t hire more than one company for a tour to promote the same book at the same time!

Sure, you don’t want to have all your eggs in one basket, you want to grab the largest audience possible!! You want to get your name out there!! I get all that!! However, hiring multiple tour companies to design/organize your blog tour can back fire. Why is that? For one, many bloggers host for a variety of touring companies. You run the risk of tours not being full. You’re time is being divided into multiple different companies that do things differently and of course the multiple guest posts and interviews you will have to complete. 

In fact, it’s the policy of some companies, that you will not book a tour with another company and theirs at the same time.

If you are going to hire different companies, spread the tours out to ensure you have constant visibility for a certain length of time. 


 The badge and banners
  1. Are they showcasing your book or filling it up with clutter? Or worse yet, self promotion?
  2. Are they attractive and enticing? 
  3. Are they easy to read? 


As an author, you should consider the badge and banner of your tour as an advertisement. Bloggers will be posting these on their websites and social media outlets to announce your tour and promote your book!! If you can’t easily tell what you’re displaying, then it’s not helping you with marketing your book. 

As a tour organizer, your commitment is to the author and to ensure that you are providing them with the BEST service and this includes the graphic art work. If you are not savvy in that department than hire someone! Don’t skim on this because I will tell you that as a blogger, if the badge or banner is ugly, is not easily read, does not showcase the book, etc., I WILL NOT sign up for the tour. I worked hard to make my blog look nice and professional! That badge and banner is a reflection on your business. If you don’t produce a good looking badge or banner, what else is going to lack? 


Pricing

You’ve heard the saying; you get what you pay for, right? Well, this is true with blog tour companies as well. The price may be “great” (meaning low) but what does that truly mean and what are you getting for that price. 


Things to consider:

Level of services 
  1. How hands-on are they? 
  2. Are they easily available for your questions and concern?
  3. What information do they provide you with for the tour and the duration of the tour
  4. Do they manage the giveaway? If so, how? 
  5. What exactly are they doing to ensure maximum visibility for your book?

Tour Hosts
  1. How many tour hosts do they have?
  2. Is there a variety within the hosts? (i.e. not only YA or PNR, but a nice mix of bloggers)
  3. Are they active? 
Yes unfortunately, I’ve bloggers sign up for tours and then they don’t post for weeks or even months. 

Bloggers: Yes, it takes time to set up a post when done right! Yes, you’re doing this for free! THANK YOU!!! Now, with that being said, you are getting something in return. Actually, you’re getting lots of things. As a blog tour host you’re getting:
  • Traffic (views) on your blog
  • ARCs  - for those that may not know, an ARC is an advance readers copy of the book. Yes, there may be some typos and there may be a slight tweak here and there from the final printed book, but basically, not only are you getting to read the book BEFORE it’s released, you’re getting it for FREE! Yes, yes, you will spend time reviewing it, but let’s not kid ourselves, we as bloggers sign up to review a book because we’re interested in it and sooner or later, we would have had to purchase the book in order to read it. 
  • Increased followers on your social media outlets
  • Networking – yes, you’re getting to know other bloggers and even authors! You’re getting your name out there and soon enough, you’ll have that moment when you get that “recognized’ for the review you did or for your blog/website! 
  • Material to post on your website! Authors provide you with either a guest post and an author interview. Tours even include promotional spotlight and while some may grimace or refuse to host this type of post, it’s still material being provided for you to include. 

So please, do not try to make out as if you’re doing this as a favor with no benefits to you at all. 

READ and REVIEW the media kit!! This is extremely important as it does have all the information you will need to include in the post as well as provide you with answers to questions you may have!  If you signed up for an Author Interview, don’t have the tour organizer have to hunt you down to get your questions. Send them ASAP to ensure that nothing slips between the cracks on your end and that the organizer has enough time to provide the author with to complete it. This in turn, ensures you get it back in a timely manner as well! Oh and when participating in tours, provide the organizer (whether it’s a company, publisher, publicist or author, etc) with the permalink to your post asap and include your blog’s name in the email.  

Also, if you’re provided with the HTML Code for the post (I provide my hosts with this for the “essential” part of the post), don’t just copy/paste it and not check it!! Not everyone’s site is the same so check to ensure the post (information) fits within your column! This is especially true when things like graphics and scroll boxes are included.  Adjust when and where needed! If instructions on how to adjust the scroll box isn’t included, either reach out to the organizer or to quote Lucas Wolf from Emily Snow’s DEVOUR Series “Google is your friend” so Google it!! While the organizer is providing  you with the html code to make things easier, it’s still your responsibility to ensure everything is correct and this includes being able to read what’s on the post and that YOUR website looks good! 

As a host, you’ve committed yourself to ensure that your post is published on time and includes everything that has been listed in the media kit as essential! Neither the Authors nor Tour Organizers should have to hunt you down to find out why your post isn’t live on the date you’re scheduled to host! We know nothing in life is certain (except death and taxes of course), so do NOT relay on the fact that you “scheduled” the post in advance. It’s technology and things happen! Check your post in the AM of the day you’re scheduled for. That’s your responsibility! With this being said, we know stuff happens, please let us know in advance if you are unable to post something on time! 

When participating in a blog tour, not only are you committing that you will post when you are scheduled for but that you will include everything you’ve been asked to post within ONE post. DO NOT separate the “essential” parts of the post (this is included in the media kit) from what you are scheduled for, i.e. review, guest post, author interview, etc.  The tour isn’t about you. It’s all about the author and the book they are promoting. Also it’s about the readers! 

I had one blogger get upset (they separated the posts into two) when I politely asked them to combine the two into one post. They stated that they do this to provide the reader with the option of reading either one or other and that they had linked them to one another. Uhm, actually, you’re making the reader click multiple times and that’s just frustrating.  Additionally the posts were not linked and there was no reference of the blog tour on the ‘main’ post. Bottom line, we’re here to show case the author and their work, the reader will still choose which part of the post they will or not read. Make it easier for the reader by having everything in one place and one click away! 

Here is something that is important and I can’t say enough about!! Make sure your website is nicely organized, clean and looks professional! Yes, this may be a hobby for you, but you’re putting yourself out there, let what you’re presenting be the best! This is especially true and important if you’re signing up to host authors! You wouldn’t want to have people visit your house and have it be a mess, would you?  

Braine brought up several great points and I agree with all of them with regards to tour companies and I will second it and add a few points as well! 

  • Use BCC! Do not include everyone in the TO field. While many of our emails may be ‘out there on the world wide web”, let’s keep everyone’s privacy in consideration. Also, you don’t want your tour host to scroll down 200 email address to get to the body of the email. 
  • You’re inviting bloggers to host the author on their tour, do not assume they will accept and send everything in the invite email if they didn’t sign up for the tour. 
  • The blog tour is an event. Think of it as such, when you send out the invitation to the bloggers!! Provide them with all the information they will need to make the decision to join the tour! This includes: 
    Tour Dates
    Book Title
    Author’s Name
    Book Blurb 
    Cover (granted, sometimes, the tour company may get hired prior to the cover being reveal, but if you have it, include it.) 
    Goodreads link (allows blogger the opportunity to look into the author a bit more to see what else they may have written)
    Genre 
    Sign up form link
  • Ensure the media kit includes everything the host will need for their post! This includes the following:
    What the post should include
    Book blurb
    Giveaway information - Use rafflecopter!! Make everyone’s life easier!!! Having the blogger choose the winners based on the comments isn’t efficient and that adds responsibility to each host. Keep everything together and ensure visibility to the tour with the giveaway enteries. Use the rafflecopter giveaway widget to promote the author and help them gain more followers
  • Time post should be live/published by (BLOGGERS – there’s a reason for this and it’s to ensure max exposure for the author. IF the time is set to 4am EST then that means 4am EST not PST or whatever time you’re living in. Do the math and post at the time requested). 
  • Badge, banner and book cover
  • Book Purchase Links 
  • Author Bio, picture and social links
  • Do not send multiple emails to the hosts unless absolutely necessary!
  • Attach all images individually for ease of uploading to blog

Okay, so this is longer than I had originally anticipated, however, seems like there was a lot to say and share. Authors, please do the research and check out the tour companies before you hire them. Remember, you are getting what you paid for!! Get references! Bloggers, thank you for continuing to support the authors and each other!! This is a wonderful community of readers, authors, reviewers and bloggers! 

If you’re a blogger and wish to become part of the Enchantress of Books Blog Tours team by becoming a host, please sign up here


You can stalk me, sorry, I mean follow me at 


I hope this post has given all of us some perspective especially for self-published authors who are planning their own marketing. Viviana pointed out some pretty good stuff which you should take into consideration before signing up and paying someone to pimp your work for you.



46 comments:

  1. You bring up some very valid points. I don't run a tour company per say but I do offer virtual assistant services to authors and organizing tours is often something that I help out with. I hate the shameless self-promotion of tour organizers; I don't even put my name on tour banners because I think it takes away from the book.

    Merry Christmas Braine! I'm a little behind on my e-mails this week but I'll reply to yours soon! :)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Hi Carmel!!

      Thanks! Agree w/ you 100%. I'm all about promoting the authors! I do include the companies's name on the banner but very small (again, not to take away from the main purpose of promoting/marketing the author/book) as this is a way for other authors to learn about the company.

      Thanks again!!

      Delete
    2. I'm a blogger who hosts for quite a few tour promoters, and I know what I look for in a tour operator. When I see that a review blog has run a good-looking promo then I want to know who organised it because THAT is whose tours I want to run on my own blog. It was how I found Viviana's site just as one example. It's now the first tour site I visit to fill my calendar, and her very first personal contact with me impressed me so much that I knew I had made a good choice - when my novel is finished I know exactly who will run the tour. Carmel I do understand that some operators overdo the self-promotion, but you're missing an opportunity to be appreciated for doing a good job and you're missing out on bloggers finding you and signing up as hosts, not to mention authors finding you and booking tours.

      Delete
    3. Although I appreciate y'alls humble efforts, I think that you should still put your name out there but not to the point where it's eclipsing the author and what you're promoting.

      Delete
  2. awesome post and so many good things pointed out. I stopped signing up for interviews for tours because it always took me forever to send the questions back. So I figure I just save myself, the author & the tour organizer from further issues. I've gotten myself down to pretty much 2 tour organizations now which it works for me :) I also started pre-scheduling my posts...it helps a whole lot!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Oh.. yes, as a blogger I've tried to avoid interviews unless I've read the series (and loved it!! Having the passion for the book(s) helps with the questions) or have read something else from the author.

      What I really need to do is create a document with "basic" and "interesting" questions that would work for any genre to have at least a base to start!!

      Delete
    2. That has never happened to me, thank goddess. With the amount of review requests I get, I sometimes just opt for an interview than a review. I like doing interviews because it's easier to post and less time consuming than reading :D

      Delete
  3. This is a great post, Viviana and Braine! It must be a lot of hard work to be responsible for a tour company, and I really appreciate it when I participate in a tour. I usually try to pick tours where I am really interested in reading that author's work :)

    Thanks for sharing!

    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Lexxie!

      It's not easy when done right but when you have a passion for what you do, the hard work is oh so worth it!! To know you're able to assist an author and get to share your love of books (in general) is a great feeling!! :)

      Delete
    2. Yup, I love pimping good stuff.

      Delete
  4. Oh yes, I hate the many emails. one is fine thanks, with all of it. And in time too

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sometimes, a few emails may need to be sent. Updates, changes and even an error on the part of the organizer will prompt an email to be sent. However, those are the only times I send multiple emails. ;)

      Delete
    2. I get updates, what I dislike is the constant daily blasts asking me to sign up for a tour I already passed on. If it's tour related that's fine, there are unforeseen changes that needs to be relayed but at times it's just sloppy.

      Delete
  5. Great post. While i personally don't so a lot of blog tours I love well organized ones.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Kimba!!

      I do love a well organized one too!! :)

      Delete
    2. That's part of my new year's resolution now, ease up on the blitzes and cover reveals (with a few exceptions) and just do review tours. It's composing the post that is the most time consuming and exhausting for me.

      Delete
  6. Oh I agree with so much of this... so much nodding and saying, "Yes!" I can't stand images inserted into Word documents and I am so glad you send them as attachments, Viviana. (Other hosts PUH-LEASE stop inserting them into Word files, it ruins the image and makes it almost impossible to even put into the blog post.) I also cringe at competitions which choose a commenter to win, it's almost guaranteed that hardly anyone will enter and readers will certainly not come back daily to enter again. Rafflecopter gives them a reason to return and a chance to remember your book.

    Value for money when you're booking a tour... it is not just about how many blog stops you get for your cash. There's no point to X number of blogs if the tour looks unprofessional. Look closer than mere numbers and make sure you check out the blog stops of current tours because this will tell you that the tour operator cares. I am dumping some of shoddy tour operators who send me a mess because I refuse to host mess... but I am definitely staying with Enchantress because it is pure professionalism & quite obvious that the focus is on a good quality product.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Hi Elisa!

      Rafflecopters are fantastic! Love the widget!! Makes everything so simple, easy to manage and a great tool to promote the author!

      That's a great point you bring up regarding the number of stops. I've had authors inquire about 4 week tours and I have recommended shorter ones due to either timing or the type of tour they had in mind. You read right, I will always advice the author on what is best for them regardless if that means I lose money.

      Thank you!! :)

      Delete
    2. Rafflecopter is a blogger's best tool!

      Stops - yeah I get discouraged if there's like 5 other stops on my day. I signed up to gain traffic and following and doing lots of stops in a day splits it up which defeats the purpose of participating.

      Delete
    3. Braine, I do agree on the multiple stops on the same day for tours. We do sign up for gain traffic. Urks me when the organizer (or the author) do not promo the individual stops on a tour. I do however and again, individually.

      However, sometimes, the tour has lots of bloggers wishing to host and I don't like turning anyone away. What I do instead is ensure that if it's a Guest Post or Author Interview is scheduled, that I don't 'out shine it' by posting another one of those on the same day. I try to post Promotional Spotlights and even reviews with those. Same for when there's a Review, I'll add Promo Spotlights to that day.

      I think it's finding that lovely balance - even if you have multiple stops on the same day :)

      Delete
    4. Oh gosh! I almost forgot that! I do get turned off when the author doesn't help out with pimping the tour posts! Like at least RT my promo tweet or something!

      Delete
  7. This is great! I SO agree with pretty much everything! I also have my name super small on the banners, it's not about me but I want people to have an idea of who organized the tour so others can find me. I never included a button until recently when bloggers kept asking me to send it. Now I'll add it in the HTML but I don't generally send it with the images. I'm not really so concerned about people knowing it's me that organized.

    I try to email everyone individually when I can, but for when I can't, I'm SO glad for BCC.

    I have had a hard time deciding on the perfect time to send the media kit. If I send it too soon then too many bloggers 'forget' but if I wait too long then some are asking for it. Generally my rule is to send it approx. one week before their tour stop.

    I've had the same issue with bloggers doing it in multiple posts. It's very frustrating and I hate emailing them to ask them to do something differently. It's clear that not everyone reads the directions. And if you sign up for a tour, POST IT! And post what you signed up for. Don't email me AFTER your tour post is up and say that you never got the book, let me know like two weeks BEFORE the tour (or sooner) so I can do something about it!

    It can be frustrating sometimes, but luckily it's very rewarding as well. And I love doing something I love and am supporting authors I believe in.

    Wonderful post!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Candace!!

      I tried sending out individual invite (emails) for tours, but as the list of hosts grew it was just way too much time spent on something that is easier managed with BCC and it helps keep conversations tracked easier!! :)

      As for the timing of when to send the media kit. I've played around with it. I like sending it out ASAP to allow the hosts time to set things up. If it's a few weeks before (or even a month or two) I will then send a "friendly reminder" email to everyone and ensure everything is included again 'just in case'.

      It's extremely frustrating when bloggers do not publish their posts. Why sign up for the tour? Like I said, I totally get that things happen, however, it's still your responsibility as a host to ensure everything is up and running correctly.

      I love what I do and hope to be able to do this only (vs. having to have a day job). I love supporting the authors!! :)

      Delete
    2. Let me comment on parts of this little convo you girls have.

      Time of posts: as bloggers we get a stream of tour invites and there are times where we're confirmed for multiple ones on the same date. I don't know how other people handle it but I do it on a first come first served basis. For example if tour #1 confirms my date before tour #2, then I would prioritize #1, give it a certain number of hours to be our top post then will publish #2.

      From my POV, this will at least give both events equal amounts of traffic so one doesn't have to get lost in the mix of the other.

      As far as failing to publish a post completely, I get how that can be frustrating and I must admit I've missed out on a post or two in the past because I overstretched myself. Not an excuse but shit like that happens and sometimes its unintention.

      Delete
    3. As a blogger, I've missed a post here and there. We're human and I totally get that! When a hosts doesn't have their post up on time, I send them an email and usually they post it immediately or let me know something has come up. My 'grip' is when the something has come up (in advance) and they never reached out to me to let me know before their scheduled posts or worse, they never reply to my email and never post at all. I'm all about keeping the lines of communication open and honest. Just keep me in the loop so I can plan accordingly! :)

      Delete
    4. I've also had a couple of date clashes - not my fault, the fault of a site assigning a different date to what I requested. Which just makes more work for them because then we have to email back and forth... I get that they have to try and juggle to fill all the dates, but uh, we bloggers are not usually exclusive to them, lol!

      With one lady who is just ridiculously slow, I decided that from now on I will only sign up for stuff from her that doesn't require top spot on the blog (she sells blitzes that don't require it). It's the only way I can make sure the author doesn't get ripped off.

      Delete
  8. we host many tours on our site, but only the ones we KNOW our readers will like. Bloggers need to keep that in mind. You shouldn't sign up for a tour if it isn't of interest to the author otherwise you are cheating the author and the tour co. Materials on time, organized, and easily accessible is what I want from a tour. I have always enjoyed your tours!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sharon!

      It's true, one must consider the readers and see if it's a right fit. Don't want to have a historical romance if your blog focuses mainly on PNR. :)

      Delete
    2. Totally agree, sign up for stuff that is relevant to you readership.

      Delete
  9. This was a great post! As an author, I don't always know what to look for. Thank you for all the useful information : )

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    Replies
    1. Hi Donna!!

      Thanks and you're welcome! It's a lot to take in and with so many tour companies out there it can be difficult. When you're considering hiring a tour company, you have to think of it as a partnership. What does that look like and what do you need from the relationship are two important questions to start with.

      Feel free to email me if you have any questions or concerns. :)

      Delete
    2. Happy to assist you :)

      Hire Viviana!

      Delete
  10. Fantastic post!! Thanks so much for sharing valuable information to all involved. I do tour with different tour companies but have whittled down my list to a few because of frustrations. I do agree that bloggers should always uphold their end though, as well. Thanks, Viviana!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Hi Brandee,

      Thanks and any time!! Some bloggers are new and may not know exactly what hosting a tour entails. Unfortunately, others may not think it's important because it's "a hobby" or may not take this serious.

      Delete
    2. Hahaha @ Viviana, you hate that we treat this as a "hobby" don't you. But I can see how that would be contrary to what you're trying to do. It's like herding a bunch of kids in the playground.

      Delete
    3. LOL Briane! I don't have a problem with it being a hobby or treated as such because hobbies are supposed to be fun! However, as soon as you commit yourself to host, then there's a bit more responsibility attached to that hobby.

      If you're hobby consisted of making scarfs and you committed yourself to making 20 scarves for the local charity to auction off (meaning they are aware of this and details were discussed and agreed upon) and you don't provide them with the scarves........

      Again to me, it's about the commitment made between the host and organizer. :)

      Delete
  11. Thank you Viviana for your post. As a blogger, I got extremely frustrated late this year and decided to cut back on tours. I have found that NA tour companies, at least for me--the ones I signed up to host--were becoming the worst. So no more for me in regards to them.

    I do love when a tour company does the HTML code especially with cover reveals and release day blitz's. Makes it that much easier on me. Plus, if you can't copy and paste and then check it to make sure it works, than BOO on the blogger.

    I have had "blonde" moments when I have put a post up and thought I had it scheduled. Then to have the tour company email me...very embarrassing.

    Marika Weber/Harlie
    owner, of Harlie's Books
    www.harliesbooks.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What I dislike is when the email body just has the book title and sign up link. I want everything to be in the message itself, I don't want to be clicking links for me to get basic deets about the book you're trying to promote.

      Delete
    2. Me Too Braine!! Oh how I hate having to click and then click oh wait, click some more just to get the basic info!!! I don't sign up for those. I just don't have the time or patience anymore for that!

      Mirika,
      Yes, HTML codes rock!! Which is why I provide them to my hosts. Again, it's easier for the hosts and to be honest, I'm also ensuring everything is set up correctly! LOL :)

      Delete
  12. Great post, Viviana. There have been so many new tour companies crop up (many of them gleaning email addresses off other tours, facebook, etc) I've seen tour materials run the gamut this year. Thanks for putting a best practice out there.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Shannon

      Delete
    2. Hi Shannon!!

      Yes, many new tour companies cropping up lately and it's been interesting to get the invites to join them or receive an invite to host one of their tours.....
      How I wish they would do research on what it takes to run a tour company and run it correctly :)

      Thanks for stopping by! :)

      Delete

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